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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school

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Structure and Courses

The MSc in Childhood Studies can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis and consists of two main elements. First, you must successfully complete a taught element made up of six courses (or an equivalent number of credits). If you do this, you can choose to leave with the Diploma in Childhood Studies. Second, to complete the MSc, you must successfully undertake a dissertation.

Three core courses will normally be required:

1. Childhood and Children's Rights (Semester 1)

2. A choice of one from two research methods courses:

3. Listening to Children: Research and Consultation (Semester 2)

Three optional courses will be required.  Please consult the degree programme table (DPT) of the programme for an overview of available optional courses. Note that the records will be updated by the end of August for each academic year. Some courses might not run some years due to staff availability.

Exemption from research skills training

If you display expected levels of research skills in particular areas you can, with the agreement of the Programme Director, claim exemption from particular parts of the research skills requirement. You would then be expected to take other course units in place of any from which you have an exemption. If you wish to apply for such an exemption, please notify the programme director when applying.

Optional courses

You should discuss with the Programme Director which research course(s) you will take as part of the compulsory element of the programme. Further methods courses may also be taken as part of your options. With the agreement of the Programme Director, you may also select from among the courses offered within the programme of the Graduate School or, exceptionally, from another degree programme.

As an interdisciplinary area of work, elements of Childhood Studies can be found across a wide range of Schools and Subject Groups within the University. Students, in consultation with the programme director, select remaining courses from a list provided to them during their induction. Please note that for all non-core options, you are expected to write their essays or similar assessments on childhood studies-related topics.

Dissertation and work-based projects

The dissertation is an in-depth and extended piece of scholarship on a topic of the student's choosing. Students can demonstrate their ability to engage critically and analytically in literature in the field, and build upon relevant concepts and theory covered in the taught element of the degree. Examples of dissertation topics from previous years include:

  • Barriers to Men Working with Children
  • Children and Young People's Perspectives on Contact with Fathers who Perpetrate Domestic Violence
  • Children's Participation Rights in Schools in Shanghai, China
  • Children's Voices and Post-Conflict Education in Kosovo
  • Media coverage of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • Non-Governmental Organisations and Children's Rights and Welfare in Ghana
  • UK Policy on Child Trafficking

You have the opportunity to apply for a number of work-based projects on which you can base your dissertation. These projects provide excellent opportunities for you to think through theoretical ideas in real world contexts and to gain transferable skills through applied, practical experience. 

Full-time and part-time students: time-table

All programmes start in September. The full-time programme of study extends over 12 months (8 months for the Diploma). Work on the dissertation starts in Semester 2. Part time students usually take four courses in their first year and two in their second; work on the dissertation element commences at the end of Semester 2 in Year 1, although there is a degree of flexibility to fit around work or personal commitments of any given student.

In their first year, part-time students should take (unless otherwise agreed with the Programme Director):

  1. Childhood and Children's Rights (Semester 1)
  2. Choice of 2 research methods courses (see above)
  3. Listening to Children: Research and Consultation (Semester 2)